Shadow of Cairngorm XVI. In the Days of the Baron Bailies
It is hard to form a right judgment
of the public characters and events of the present day. Ignorance,
prejudice, and other things are against us, and however much we try to be
fair, we may fall into mistakes and injustices. Even with the daily
newspapers to help us, we are often perplexed, for, though they should
agree as to the facts,which is far from being always the case,
they may differ widely as to the interpretation to be put upon them. If
this be true of the present, we need not wonder if our difficulties are
vastly increased, when we have to deal with the past, especially the far
past. Here the light is dimmer, the path is more uncertain, and such
guides as present themselves are not always or altogether to be trusted.
The Days of the Baron Bailies in our parish may be said to extend from
1694, when the Regality of Grant was erected by Royal Charter (28th
February), to 1748, when the
Regality Courts were abolished. As to the character of these times, we
have first of all the general testimony of history. Burton says that
(1698-1748) "the Scottish Bench had been profligate and subservient to the
utmost conceivable extent." If this was the case in the high places, what
could have been expected in the lower Courts? Burt says (Vol. II., 149,
Jamiesons Edition), "The heritable power of Pit and Gallows, as
they call it, which still is exercised by some within their proper
districts, is, I think, too much for any particular subject to be
entrusted with." He then shews how it may lead to "injustice and
oppression, through the partiality of the Chief and the private
resentment of the baily.'" He had been often told, for he had not been
accustomed to attend these Courts himself, of one Bailie in particular,
who seldom examined any but with raging words and rancour (a very
Jeffreys), and if the answers made are not to his mind, he contradicts
them by blows, and one time even to the knocking down of the poor wretch
who was examined." As to the pride of the Bailies, Burt says--"When he
travels, in time of snow, the inhabitants of one village must walk before
him to make a path to the next, and so on to the end of his progress; and
in a dark night they light him from one inhabited place to another, which
are mostly distant, by carrying blazing sticks of fir." Then we have the
evidence of tradition. No doubt tradition is not to be depended upon, but
it certainly gives the impression made upon the mind of the people, and it
must be taken into account in forming our judgment of the times. In this
parish there are several places connected with the doings of the Bailies.
There is the Drowning Pool, at Balliemore, where, it is said,
witches and other women criminals used to be put to death. Then there is
the Gallows Tree near Lynstock. This venerable fir still stands,
though it must be over 300 years old. At a height of 12 feet from the
ground there is a strong projecting bough, and it is said that it was from
it the fatal cord or wuddie was hung. There are marks of graves at the
foot of the tree, tradition says of two brothers, as stated by the Rev. Mr
Grant, and therefore the tree is sometimes called "The Tree of the
Brothers." But it is said that the usual place of interment was in a plot
of ground opposite the Causair Smithy, where bones have been found.
Another hanging place was at Tom-a-throchair, Hangmans Hill, which
may have been used when the Courts sat at Rothiemoon, where there was a
Toll-dhubh, Black Hole, or prison, the hearthstone of which is still
to the fore. Other traditions exist connected with Achernack and Congash.
Then we have with regard to our parish two very important sources of
information, one largely incorporating tradition, and the other dealing
with facts, viz., the Old Statistical Account (1793), by the Rev. John
Grant, and the Court Books of the Regality of Grant, in five volumes
(1690-1729),. preserved in the Record Office, Edinburgh.
Before quoting Mr Grant, it
may be well to consider how far he was a competent witness. Mr Grant, as
stated in Chapter XI., was a native of Duthil, and born in 1739. His
father, who died in 1795 aged 86, was of the old family of Milton, and his
grandfather or great-grandfather appears to have himself acted as a Bailie
(1704). Mr Grant would have been able therefore to obtain information at
first hand. Then Mr Grant was settled at Abernethy in 1765, only 17 years
after the abolition of the Regality Courts, and there must have been many
people then alive who could speak from their own knowledge of the Bailies
and their doings. Besides, Mr Grant was minister of the parish for 56
years, and during that time he had ample opportunity for enquiry and
examination. It has been endeavoured by Dr Scott of the Fasti and others
to impugn Mr Grants veracity and trustworthiness. It has been said that
he was Chaplain of the 97th Regiment, and that having several sons in the
army during the Peninsular War, he was in the habit of reading the
newspapers to his congregation when anything of importance occurred
regarding the progress of events and so on. There is in this a mixture of
truth and error. Mr Grant was for some time Chaplain of the 97th
Regiment, and the report that he at times read extracts from the
newspapers in Church is no doubt, correct, but he had nosons in
the army during the Peninsular War. The two sons of his in the service
were Peter, Captain in the H.E. Indian Company, who died in 1810, and
George, in the Bombay Infantry, who died in 1819. Mr Grant may have been a
poor preacher, and rather of the type of minister common at that time,
both in England and Scotland, described by Wordsworth:"He
was often the patriarch of his parish, its ruler, its doctor, its lawyer,
its magistrate, as well as its teacher, before whom vice trembled, and
rebellion dared not shew itself. The idea of the priest was not quite
forgotten, but there was much, much even of what was good and useful, to
obscure it. The beauty of the English Church in this time was its family
life of purity and simplicity: its blot was
quiet worldliness" (River Duddon). But
whatever view be taken of Mr Grants statements, and although some of them
may be regarded as exaggerated or even incredible, we are bound to give
him the credit of sincerity and of courageous utterance of what he
believed to be truth. With respect to the rapacity of some of the Bailies,
for no doubt there were good and bad men amongst them, and some may have
from greed and malice greatly abused their power, Mr Grant is supported by
Mr Lorimer. In his MS. Notes,
1762, he says:"The Baillie had the escheat or the whole goods of the
person condemned, and as the Laird of Grant took none of the fines nor
escheat, his Baillie Knockando laid the foundation of his fortune by suck
means." In another place he says that Delrachneys father was Lord of
Strathspey for 40 years, that he made as much money as to be able to lend
the Laird 22,000 merks. He also got an advantageous wadsett and a tack of
Inverladnan for 76 years. Altogether he and his father are said to have
made £3000 or £4000 by the family. With these preliminary remarks, we give
Mr Grants account, and some extracts from the Regality Books, leaving our
readers to form their own opinions:
will mention the blessings we enjoy by the abolition of the Jurisdiction
Act of 1748. That delegation of feudal power was dangerous in the extreme,
because it was generally abused. When we consult the traditional history
of the country for a century and upwards past, and the extraordinary
conduct of some of these despots, the bailies of regality, and the
precariousness of life and property, often within their jurisdiction, one
is excited to grasp with fondness the government that has annihilated
their dangerous power. They often punished crimes by committing greater
ones themselves. They often, no doubt, tried by jury, but some of them at
other times in a summary, arbitrary, and extraordinary manner. A few
instances will be enough to mention in case the reader should imagine that
these things were lately done in Tippoo Sultans dominions. One of them
lived in this parish named Robert Grant, commonly called Bailie More. It
is said he used to hang people for disobliging him. He seldom called
juries. He hanged two brothers on a tree within 1000 yards of this town,
and buried both in one grave on the roadside. The grave and stones above
it are still visible. Another, named James Grant, commonly called Bailie
Roy. who lived long in this parish, hanged a man of the name of Steuart,
and after hanging him set a jury on him and found him guilty. The
particulars are too long to be inserted here. The bailie had many reasons
for being in such a hurry. The man was, unluckily for him, wealthy, and
abounded in cattle, horses, sheep, and goats, all of which were instantly
driven to the Bailies home. Steuarts children set a-begging, and his
wife became deranged in her mind and was afterwards drowned in a river. It
is not very long since. This same Bailie Roy, on another occasion, hanged
two notorious thieves, parboiled their heads, and set them up in spikes
afterwards. At another time he drowned two men in sacks at the Bridge of
Billiemore, within a few hundred yards of this manse, and endeavoured to
compel a man from Glenmore, in the barony of Kincardine, to assist him and
the executors he had with him in the business, which the man refusing to
do, the Bailie said to himIf you was within my regality I would teach
you better manners than to disobey my commands. This Bailie bought a good
estate. There was another of them, called Bailie Bain, in this country,
who became so odious that the country people drowned him in Spey, near the
church of Inverallan, about two miles from hence. They took off his boots
and gloves, left them on the bank, and drove his horse through a rugged
place full of large stones. The track in the sand, boots, &c., discovered
what had become of him, and when a search had been made for him down the
river a man met the party near the church of Cromdale, who asked them what
they were searching for. They answered, For the bailies body, upon
which he said, Turn back, turn back, perhaps he has gone up against the
river, for he was always acting against nature. As their power was great
and generally abused, so many of them enriched themselves. They had many
ways of making money for themselves, such as (1) the bailies darak, as it
was called, or a days labour in the year from every tenant on the estate;
(2) confiscations, as they generally seized on all the goods and effects
of such as suffered capitally; (3) all fines for killing game, blackfish,
or cutting green wood were laid on by themselves, and went into their own
pockets. These fines amounted to what they pleased almost. (4) Another
very lucrative perquisite they had was what was called the Herial Horse,
which was the best horse, cow, ox, or other article which any tenant on
the estate possessed at the time of his death. This was taken from the
widow and children for the bailie, at the time they had most need of
assistance. This amounted to a great deal on a large estate. This practice
was abolished by the late Sir Ludovick Grant in this country in the year
The following extracts from the
Court Books of the Regality of Grant are mainly taken from a pamphlet by
Wm. Cramond, LL.D., F.S.A., Cullen:
"Followes the courtis and actis,
sentences and process of the Right Honoll. Ludovick Grant of that ilk
holdine be L. Collonell Patrick Grant, Tutor of Grant, his baylie, be
vertue of his comissione and letter of Bayliarie efter mentioned. Court of
the paroshine and Lordship of Abernethie holdine at Culnakyll, the 2nd of
January 1690, be the tutor of Grant, Baylie; David Blair, notar and clerk;
John Maktourich, officer; and Grigor Grant in Abernethi, procurator
phiscall. Suits called, curia legitime affirmata. The said Bailie did
elect and charge David Blair, notar publict, to be clerk to the said
Court, who gave his oath de
fideli, and did continue said John
Maktourich, officer, and said Grigor Grant, procurator phiscali, they
being creat members of court befor the preceding baylie. The said bailie
presented his commission of bailiarie.
"Stealing Cows2nd January
1690.Allaster Bayne, in Bellifurth, guilty of stealing or at least
concealing of the cowes pertaining to John Grant, alias Makallaster
Vickandro, in Cromdall. Unlawed in 50 lib.
"Stealing Sheep.David Makallaster, in Glenlochie, pursued
at the instance of Alexander Grant, in Burnside of Cromdale, for
reparation of three wedders. He was found guilty as after a heastie daker
Alexander Grant found in the defenders house ane fresh mutton bouk, and
the defender would not produce hyd and heid. To pay £9Sc. for said
wedders with his tasquill and expenses, and to pay £50 Sc. of unlaw to the
Grant and Donald Macgressack, in Comgrass, unlawed in 50 lib. the peice
for theft for stealing from John Maknokater, in Glenlockie, five heid of
sheip. Thomas Troup, in Tullich, 50 lib. for striking and blooding of
William Grant. John Mulloch, in Comgrass, 50 lib. for theft from Allaster
Fraser. James Murray, in Achernach, 50 lib. for stealing two wedders from
John Gow, in Cromdaill.
"3rd January 1690Stealing Wool.Duncan
Roy, in Garthinmor, against Helen Taylor for stealing of ane seakfull of
wooll that he had hid in the tyme the Highland army went down Speyside. It
weighed 4½ stone. She is ordained to pay it at 14 merks the stone, also
tasquill money and 50 lib. of unlaw.
of Arrestment27thNovember 1690.Findlay
Beg Fraser, in Tulloch unlawed 10 lib. for breach of arrest.
"Stealing Plough lrons.Donald Makrobie and John Makulister, big,
in Tulloch, 50 lib. each for stealing of pleugh irons.
"Recipting Stolen Wool.William Macandachie, moir, his wiff in
Lyngarrow, 20 lib. for receipting of wool from her dochter, stolen by her
from Duncan Roy, in Gartenmore.
"Selling Wood5th January 1690.Thomas Mackenzie, in
Culenakyll, 50 lib. for medling with the Laird of Grants woods and selling
thereof without warrand.
"Payment of Rents.The haill wadsetters, tacksmen, and
tenants of the parishes of Abernethie, &c., to pay the duties, kaynes,
customes, and casualties due to Ludovick Grant of that ilk for crop 1691.
"Court of the parishine and Lordship
of Abernethie holdin at Culenakyle, 25th November 1691.
"Assaults.Alexander Grant in
Culdorach fined 50 lib. for beating and blooding of James Bayne. James
Cruishank, maltman in Ballachastell, convict in 50 lib. for beating and
abusing James Cassiles in Achabrondach and his wife within ther own hous
in silence of night, also 50 lib. for beatting and abusing James Sheid and
his man, who lodged in the said Cassiles hous.
on Deeside.An action by the Laird of Monaltrie
against Allaster Mak-grigor, vig., and Thomas Gedderer and John Mackschall
in Clachey, &e., for reparation of eight sheep or 40s, the piece of the
remainder of ane greater number stolen be the said tenants from James
M'Kphersone, in Monaltrie, his man, upon the month of December 1690. The
bailie ordains them to pay the sums demanded.
Socks.Donald Roy Fraser, aged 16 or 17, stole a
sock from Issobell Grant in Belimore, also a sock from Achernickes pleugh.
An assize of fifteen persons held, all surnamed Grant, namely, Patrick
Grant of Tulochgorame, William Grant of Lurg, Grigor Grant of Gartinmore,
Duncan Grant of Mullochard, John Grant of Dell, Duncan Grant of Letoch.
[The others are in not of So-and-so.] The assize finds him guilty,
and refer him to the bailie, who ordains that the said pannell his lug be
nailed with ane irone naill to ane post, and to stand there for the space
of ane hour with entymatione, and then alowes him to break the grip nailed
without drawing of the naill, and this he gives for doome, and lykways
unlawes Patrick Grant, in Curr, his maister, in 50 lib. for recepting of
"Stealing a Horse,
11th December 1693.John Stewart, roy, in Achnaconan
fined £50 for stealing of Glengariks horse, confest it was ill counsull
caused him doe it.
"Lugs nailed for Burning
Heather.(James Grant of Gelloway, bailie.)
Alexander Gardner, alias Murray, Patrick John Dow, milart, his son,
Patrick Barron, son to David Barron accused for burning heather adjacent
to the backside of the Craigmore of Abernethie, whereby much fir wood was
burned. An assize sat on them. They are ordained to be taken to the
gallows of the moor of Belintomb and their lugs nailed to the said
"Wages fixed bythe Court, 13th November 1696.Na man
to give or any workman to receive for his wages a day mor than 2s of money
or ane hadish of meal.
"A Man and his Daughter scourged at
the Gallow Tree for Theft.Patrick
Bayn in Rienacleych and his dochter convict of theft. His friends became
security for his good conduct for three years, and, that be at the close
thereof, appear in court. Bailie Grant (of Gelloway) ordains him to be
taken immediately from the court to the gallow foot upon the moor of
Belintome and tyed thereto be the executioner with hemp cords and his
bodie maid naked from the belt upward and then to be scourged by the said
executioner with ane scourge by laying upon his body 24 strypes to the
effusion of his blood and then to be lowsed and let go, and Margaret Bayn,
his dochter, shall be also taken forth to the gallow foot and tyed thereto
immediately by the said executioner with hemp cord and her body made naked
from the weast upward and then to be scourged with thratie (?) strypes be
the hand of the executioner till her blood run downe and then to banish
the said Margaret from Strathspey not to return under pain of death.
"Three Men Hanged for Stealing Cows
and Sheep2nd September 1697.For stealing
cows and sheep Gilanders MackGilanders, Thomas Mackienloch Innes, his man,
and Donald Mackrobie, to be carried to the pit of Castle Grant, there to
remain till Tuesday next the 7th inst., and upon said Tuesday morning to
be brought to the Gallowhill of Bellintome, and all three hanged upon the
gallows of Bellintome betuix two and four in the afternoon till they be
dead, and decerns Gregor Dow to be bound to the gallows the time of their
execution, and to have his left ear cut off and to be scourged and
"Two Thieves Hanged17th
August 1698.John Barron, son to David Barron in Abernethie, broke the
house of John Fraser, stole his cheese, and committed other thefts.
William MCandachie, taylior, commone theiff, sorner and vagabond. An
assize find both guilty, that they are common thieves and have been
trading in theft a long time bygane, and can find no suretie. Both to be
hanged on the 20th August on the hill of Bellintome.
"Hunting with the Halkit Steir.Margaret Bayn, dochter to Patrick Bayn,
sometime in Inchstomach, brought from the prison at Castle Grant, as she
who was apprehended within Strathspey for several delinquencies,
especially for haunting with the Halkit Steir and Glendry broken men and
Keithren. To be brought to the Regality Cross at Grantown to-morrow, 14th
inst., and bound thereto, and her bodie maid bear from the belt upward,
and scourged by the hangman with thratie strypes and ane of her ears cutt
off, and she to be then banished out of Strathspey for ever.
"Aquavitae to be brewed and served
to the districtJune1703.
All the tenants to carry their bear for malt to the malt kiln at Castle
Grant, and to get 8 merks for it each boll, to be sold at 16d. the pynt.
None to import malt out of any place but the four parishes. No aquavitie
to be imported to the four parishes, and the brewers to brew aqvavitie of
the country malt, and to serve the four parishes at reasonable rates.
"Court of the lands and lordship of
Abernethie held at Culenakyll 9th March 1704 by William Grant of Lurg,
bailie of the said lordship.
"Tailors' and Wrights Wages
fixed.It is statut by the bailie, with
consent of the gentlemen of the country, that the days wages of tailors
shall be from 4s the best tradesmen and the meaner for 2s Sc. and their
meat, and 5s a day to the best country wright, and the transgressors to
pay £5 of unlaw, both giver and receiver.
"Assaulting a Women
.Donald Dow in Bellamor unlawed £10 for striking and
blooding Elspet Grant in Lettoch.
"Assaulting a Man.Patrick Grant in Badiniden unlawed in 40s
for striking Donald Roy, taylor in Bellamor.
"A rendevous in Highland
garb.Court of the lands of Tulchane Skeiradvey, holdin
at Delay 27th July 1704. By order of the Laird of Grant, yr., the bailie
ordains the haill tenants, malenders, tradesmen, and servants within the
said lands that are fencible men shall provide, and have in readiness
against 8th August, ilk ane of them, Highland coats, trewes, and short
hose of tartan of red and green set bread springed, and also with gun,
sword, pistol, and durk, and with these present themselves to ane
rendevouze when called upon 48 hours advertisement within the country of
Strathspey, for the said Laird of Grant or his father, their hosting and
hunting under failie of £20 Sc., ilk ane, and the maister to outrig ther
servants in the said coats, trewes, and that out of their fies.
"Ilk ane to his own Shealing30th May 1706.ilk tenant to keep their
own glen in due time of the year under failie of £5 and all in the glens
shall hest in inbringing ther beasts to ther own proper shealings ilk
nicht and nocht wrong ther neighbours shealing or particular pastur.
"Breach of Sabbath20th November 1706.John Stewart Roy
in Comgess fined £20 for bargaining upon the Sabbath Day. 20s Sc. to be
given for ilk fox killed.
"Equivalent of Customs25th
April 1711.Ilk two-year-old custom wedder to be rentalled at £2 3s 4d
Sc.; one-year-old wedder, 30s; ilk custom goose, 10s Sc. ; hen, 2s 6d Sc.
; ilk pultrie, 18d Sc. ; stone of brew tallow, £3 Sc., &c. Coble bear also
to be paid by those lyable.
"School Meal.The school meale of Duthel is a peck of
victuall ilk 18 pairt betuix Yuill and Candlemas yearly, and the payment
to be to the respective millards of the several millis. Four constables
appointed for Duthil parish to see to carry out the acts anent grinding
and shealling, and five constables for the Lordship of Abernethy. For the
schoolmaster of Abernethy, all to pay a peck the auchten pairt, the
milvards to collect it and to be comptable to the schoolmaster for payment
of half a boll meal.
"Foxes and Eagles.
Payment to be made for ilk fox killed 40s Sc. ; ilk
young fox, 20s; every eagle, 20s. Ilk 1-18th part of land to pay 13s 4d,
and ilk rnellander 6s 8d as a fund.
"Peeling Trees16thJuly, 1714.No peeling of growing birk trees to be allowed.
Price of 14 pynts aqwavite at 16s,
ane barrell of syse 10 pyntes, price 20s, awl ane drinking horne at 4s.
"Moor Burning.None to take upone hand to make any moor burn in hill or
deall, moss or muir, efter the 1st March until the cornes be shorne under
the penalties contained in the Act of Parliament.
"Unringed Swine.Unringed swine straying to be killed. and
no scabbed horses to be permitted to go about.
"James Grant, in Riemore, late
forester of the woods of Abernethie, fined £100 Sc. for breach of trust in
not delivering up to the Laird of Grant money for wood sold to the people.
"Killing Kipper Fish20th
October 1722.Wm. Duncan, one of the sawmillers of Abernethie, and
Alexander Cuming, one of the Englishmens servants, at Culnakyll, being
taken two days ago killing kipper fish, are fined £50 Sc. each. Several
tenants of Belintomb and Allachy fined £3 Sc. each for cutting wood, &c.
"Stealing of Fir, Birch, and Fruit
Trees, and Lime.Petition by the Hon.
James Grant of Grant, that the fir woods in Abernethie and Glencherneck
are dayly cutt stollen, aud carried away by tenants in Strathspey without
any warrand, and that the birk woods are wholly destroyed by peiling of
the bark thereof at their pleasure, and leaving of the timber peiled
standing rotting in the woods, and against the breaking of orchards,
gardens, destroying of fruit trees and stealing of fruit, and against
stealing lime from the lime kiln and house of Castle Grant by night and by
day, and anent the great hurt and prejudice done to the fir woods of
Strathspey by cutting and destroying standing trees for to be candle fir
to all the inhabitants. Also that all bear to be malt ought to be sent to
the malt kiln of Castle Grant. The petition is granted. Penalty for
stealing lime1st fault £10 Sc., 2nd fault £20 Sc., 3rd fault, scourging.
For stealing woodTo pay the value also, £10 for the first, £20 for the
second, and £40 for the third fault, and if not, responsall for payment to
be imprisoned 8, 15, or 30 days for the first, second, and third faults,
and to live upon bread and water during the said space, and at the end of
said month to be scourged. All conform to Act of Parliament, and the
willfull contraveners of the said Acts, and destroyers and cutters of
growing woods shall be punished thereafter to death as thieves.
"An ablach SheepDecember
3rd 1725.Alexander Grant in Dul presented in court ane wedders skin and
head found by dackering in the house of John Roy in Badenaden. He said it
belonged to himself in respect he found it as ane ablach beside the fir
wood, 6th December. James Grant of Auchnakyle is become cautioner and
surety for John Roy in Badenaden, now in the pitt of Castle Grant, for the
alleged theft of wedders, under the penalty of 500 merks.
"Killing Deer9thDecember.Roderick MKenzie, servitor to Gregor Grant yr. of
Gartenmore, confessed that he shot a deer in the laird of Grants
forestry, and brought it to his masters house, that he killed a roe in
the same place and a deer in the Duke of Gordons forest. He and his
master are fined £50 Sc. each.
"Receipt of Theft.WilliamMCulloch in Cunakyle unlawed £50 Sc. for receipt of spoilzied goods
taken from Duncan Grant, Cullnafey, and another £50 Sc. for eating and
recepting kipper fish in forbidden time.
"Sheep destroyed by Foxes and
Eagles. The gentlemen tennants and others
in the regality of Strathspey represent they sustain continual and daily
losses by the foxes and eagles killing their sheep, and entreat the judges
to fall on proper methods for preventing said damages by stenting a fund
on all the country people, and by offering rewards for those destroyed,
therefore in April and May next the gentlemen and tenants in the four
parishes of Strathspey shall pay a sufficient year-old wedder or 2s stg.,
and each melander [cottar] that has sheep ane sufficient lamb or 12s Sc
For a fox or eagle killed £2 Sc. each to be paid.
"A Mill Removed31stJuly 1728.The mill of the Braes of Abernethy to be transported to
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